Background: Bone is the most frequent site of metastasis in patients with breast cancer. Bone metastasis, particularly osteolytic bone destruction, is usually associated with significant morbidity and deterioration of quality of life. Bisphosphonates are specific inhibitors of osteoclast activity used in the treatment of hypercalcemia of malignancy and osteolytic bone disease. Methods: We reviewed pertinent literature on the use of bisphosphonates therapy to treat metastatic breast cancer. Results: The use of bisphosphonates in the management of osteolytic bone metastases results in improved palliation of symptoms. Use of these agents in the adjuvant setting may help to prevent bone metastases. Conclusions: Bisphosphonates represent an effective palliative treatment when combined with chemotherapy and hormonal therapy for the management of osteolytic bone metastases. Identifying the exact mechanism of action requires further investigation to better define the possibility of a direct antitumor effect. The role of bisphosphonates in the adjuvant setting is still controversial, pending the results of large randomized trials.
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